When it comes to household electrification, Africa is more often than not struggling in the rear, being the region with the world’s most underserved population in terms of access to sustainable energy.
However, Statista-analyzed figures from the Global Solar Atlas for the World Bank reveal that Africa shows more potential for solar energy than any other region across the world.
Africa has 4.51 kWh/kWp/day, which is ahead of that of Central and South America, at 4.48, as well as that of North America, at 4.37. 20 percent of the world’s population resides in 70 nations where there are suitable conditions for the deployment and sustenance of solar output surpassing 4.5 kWh/kWp per day.
According to the report, only African countries together average above this threshold being that much of the energy potential of less developed countries remains untapped. This, however, presents what is mostly referred to as a unique opportunity for the provision of reliable, affordable, and sustainable electricity to communities where they are most needed.
Presently, 600 million people, or 43 percent of the entire populace, lack access to electricity, most of which reside in Sub-Saharan Africa.
While countries such as Kenya, Ghana, and Rwanda are making efforts to reach full access by 2030, more than 80 percent of people who have no access to electricity reside in the ruralities, where mini-grids and standalone systems are the most sought-after means of power generation.
With a whopping 970 million Africans lacking access to something as basic as clean cooking, there is no argument that the continent’s demand for energy services will grow rapidly. Africa has the lowest per capita use of modern energy in the world, and as its population and income levels grow, the demand for modern energy will expand by a third between now and 2030.
Just as the continent sets to lead in the solar threshold, research also suggests Africa will become a global hydrogen powerhouse.
According to the International Energy Agency’s Africa Energy Outlook 2022, Africa’s richness of renewable resources (solar and onshore wind) will be the key to unlocking its world-class potential. Per the report, the continent is capable of producing 5,000 megatonnes of hydrogen a year at less than USD 2 per kg, which aligns with the world’s current energy supply.
Come 2030, Africa could produce about 80 percent of new power generation from wind, solar, hydropower, geothermal, and other means of renewing energies, supported by the falling cost of solar units. To attain universal access to affordable electricity in the next 8 years, the continent must connect at least 90 million people yearly, thrice the recent years’ rate; hydrogen generation is a key way of doing so.
“Africa’s vast resources of minerals that are critical for multiple clean energy technologies are set to create new export markets but need to be managed well. Africa accounts for over 40 percent of global reserves of cobalt, manganese, and platinum – key minerals for batteries and hydrogen technologies,” the IEA notes.